Gibbons Hosts NJSBA Seminar On Minorities' Pathway To Partnership

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 - 01:00

More than 35 attorneys representing over 20 law firms in the tri-state area attended a diversity program, Pathways to Partnership for Associates of Color, hosted by Gibbons and the New Jersey State Bar Association's Minorities in the Profession Section (MIPS).

A panel of accomplished partners of color, which included Paulette Brown of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, Peter Harvey of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, Sofia Lipman of McCarter & English, Daniel Mateo of Reed Smith, and Ghillaine Reid of Gibbons, joined to educate and provide guidance and key strategies to chart a successful course toward law firm partnership.

Moderated by Rita K. Warfield, an associate in the Gibbons Product Liability Department, the interactive program also addressed hot diversity topics and issues in the legal industry including the challenges and expectations minority attorneys will face as they walk the road to partnership, as well as the responsibilities law firms should take to recruit and retain top minority talent.

Drawing from the recent barrage of news coverage on the state of diversity in the legal industry, each panelist was given an opportunity to discuss some of the key issues facing attorneys of color at law firms. Each speaker shared with guests their experience and insight on how associates of color should navigate through the rough waters of partnership.

Ms. Brown shared the importance of developing "organic" mentoring relationships. "Mentoring relationships should not be forced, but should be natural alliances you develop with the individual," she said.

Ms. Reid discussed the importance of utilizing internal firm initiatives to demonstrate a commitment to the firm. In addition to participating in firm initiatives and activities, she stressed the importance of going above and beyond the call of duty as an attorney.

Mr. Mateo offered his perspective on raising your profile in a law firm setting. "There is no substitute for great work," he said. "It is the best way to raise your profile internally."

Ms. Lipman offered branding tips to become a "Super Lawyer." She stressed the importance of producing quality work, taking the initiative to go after opportunities to expand your experience and make an effort to work well with everyone.

Mr. Harvey tackled some of the challenges and realities associates of color face at law firms. Instead of focusing on the negative, Mr. Harvey urged attendees to give themselves permission to be successful.

"I am proud that Gibbons had the vision to see how important a program such as Pathways is to minorities in the legal community," Ms. Warfield said. "Based on the feedback from our guest panelists and attendees, we have made a contribution to help remedy this deficiency in the legal landscape of New Jersey."